Monday, July 26, 2010

Dog Behavior Workshop 3

Introduction to basic K9 learning theory:

Thorndike's Law of Effect (1911) "Behaviors just prior to a pleasant event are more likely to be repeated; behaviors just prior to unpleasant events are more likely to diminish."

Positive Reinforcement: Think of this as a + sign, adding something to your dogs environment that increases the likelihood of a desired behavior re-occurring in the future.

Remember, love is all you need. When looking for a trainer, look for one that uses a heaping scoop of positive reinforcement with a very small side of negative punishment. Never use positive punishment on a dog!


Pavlov's classical conditioning followed by B.F. Skinner:

Positive reinforcement +R
Negative reinforcement -R
Positive Punishment +P
Negative Punishment -P

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dog Behavior Workshop 2

Welcome back! Here are the answers to the Quiz:

1) Attention

2) They had to go!

3) It's Comfy!

4) They're Bored

5)They don't know how to.

So how'd you do? As you can see, dogs think very simply.

Let's talk a bit about a popular theory these days, Pack Theory.
It is true that dogs are pack animals, however, they are removed from wolves by THOUSANDS of years.
Dogs are NOT born leaders, in fact they are born FOLLOWERS! Think about it, if every member of a pack wanted to be the leader or 'alpha' that pack wouldn't function very well, would it? Dogs are more than happy to sit back and relax and let you take care of the important stuff like food, water and shelter.

Dogs do not need to be dominated. The best way to establish leadership is through the Nothing in Life is Free method which states that a dog must work for everything it wants. Before a dog eats, gets pet, goes outside, plays etc, they must first do something for you. (Like sit).

If you do find yourself with a dominant dog, make sure you mix their food with your hands and let them watch you eat first, before they get fed. Also make sure to walk through doorways first.

In the next instalment we will delve into K9 Cognition and learning theory...see you then!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dog Behavior Workshop 1

Welcome to the first instalment of my Dog Behavior Workshop.

In the blogs that follow we will be discussing common K9 myths, doggy cognition and training plus much more! Enjoy!

Let's start with some myths and misconceptions:
Dogs Don't have feelings
Dogs Don't think
Dogs Think like humans
Dogs must be led through fear
Dogs are alpha and must be submitted
Dogs feel guilt

All of the above are FALSE statements, but many hold them to be true.

Facts and Truths:
Dogs think like DOGS!
Similar to a young child
Lead through love, understanding and respect.

Don't Anthropomorphize! This means placing human emotions on animals. EX: ("He pees on my bed while I'm gone because he's mad at me!")

Dogs cannot:
Be spiteful
Mad at you
Understand non tangibles

Dogs can:
Do math (you don't believe me? Take out 3 cookies from the cookie jar and give your dog 2!)

Rico the boarder collie is thought to be the smartest dog on earth. He knows the names of over 200 toys, learns new names quickly and is able to retain them and is able to pick out new and unfamiliar toys.

Duke University conducted a very interesting study on K9 cognition and came to find that dogs are the only species, other than human, that understands what a pointed finger means. Other animals including primates and dolphins look at your finger while a dog will follow the point and look in the direction you are indicating. They believe this comes from the thousands of years of domestication our furry friends have had.


Your dog jumps on you because?

Your dog pees in the house because?

Your dog gets on your couch/bed because?

Your dog eats your couch because?

Your dog doesn't play well with others because?

Come back next time for the answers and more!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dogs in "Paradise"

Recently I was fortunate enough to travel way out into the Southern Caribbean to the island of St. Lucia.
This island has been on my 'must see' list for quite some time now, and now that I have been all I can say is....CHECK!

Out of all the places I've traveled, this by far was one of the worst...for animals, dogs especially.

Stray dogs were everywhere, standing in roads, chasing chickens through villages, standing with the pigs on the beach....all were filthy, most malnourished and skinny. As I passed one mother dog with 3 puppies feeding from her I wondered what sort of spay/neuter program (if any) was offered on the island.

A few dogs had collars, but I wasn't sure that meant they were well cared for, or even fed on a regular basis. I can only imagine the desease....parvo....distemper...etc...

I wondered what could be done....what could I do? I am still asking myself that....

Could this tourist paradise be a purgatory for these furry souls?